Professor Neil Ferguson, of Imperial College London, who advises the government, said he had not yet booked a stay abroad but the risks were focused on countries with levels of infection higher than the UK.
It comes after the European Commission said it would ease travel restrictions in the bloc amid Covid-19 vaccination drives and falling infection rates.
The EU proposes “to allow entry into the EU for non-essential reasons not only for all people coming from countries where the epidemiological situation is good, but also for all people who have received the last recommended dose of ‘a vaccine authorized by the EU’.
The UK government’s ‘green list’ of countries to which people can travel without having to self-isolate for 14 days upon return is also expected to be released shortly.
Professor Ferguson told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “I think if, for example, by the summer the infection levels in France and Italy are at the same level as here, then there is no risk associated with traveling abroad.
“The risk comes from a place like the UK with very low infection levels and going to a place with much higher infection levels and therefore the risk of bringing the infection back.
“If the two places are at comparable levels, and that’s what the EU says, then there are no particular risks associated with travel.”
He said the risk of vaccines being less effective in dealing with variants was “the major concern” which could still lead to a “very significant third wave in the fall” in the UK.
It was therefore “essential to deploy booster doses, which can protect against this, as soon as we have practically finished vaccinating the adult population, which should be completed by the summer,” he said.
Professor Ferguson said he “felt quite optimistic that we won’t be completely back to normal, but something that looks a lot more normal by the summer”.
Agreeing that “everyone would like to safely reopen international travel”, he added: “The EU has made a very strong warning in its statement that it reserves the right to crack down again if there is had worrying variants, and I think it’s everyone’s business right now across the European continent, that we don’t want to see vaccination undermined by things like the South African variant spreading in such a way uncontrolled, but with that caveat, if we can find ways to reopen international travel that mitigates that risk, then I think everyone would like to have the opportunity to go overseas. “
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s view that the more than a meter rule on social distancing could be repealed in June, Professor Ferguson said it was a political judgment on the level of infection acceptable, given that deaths had been reduced.
He said: “We expect transmission and to some extent hospitalizations and deaths to increase at the end of the summer if we get back to normal completely, but to a much lower level than what we saw, for example, in December and January ”.
‘So it’s obviously a political judgment on what’s acceptable in terms of the number of infections, but we don’t see any prospect of, say, the NHS being overwhelmed – with the caveat about the variants I have. already mentioned – so it’s always a matter of judgment.
He said it would take ‘much higher infection levels in society in order to risk overwhelming the NHS and we believe that in fact will not happen unless a variant occurs that resets this again. relationship.”
Professor Ferguson pointed out his team still had some concerns about late summer and early fall, but ‘they are diminishing’, especially in light of new data showing the effect of vaccines on transmission. virus.
“And that has lowered our estimates of the magnitude of any potential fall wave,” he said.
Meanwhile, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Tourism Rita Marques said the country is “taking the lead” at the European Council in negotiations to open the European Union to British holidaymakers.
She told BBC Breakfast: “We are really doing everything we can to open up to third countries like the UK.”
But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss urged people to wait for an announcement from the UK Travel Task Force, telling Sky News: “I would encourage people to wait until we make this announcement so that that we can see exactly what the details are, based on the data. , because what we don’t want to do is re-import this virus after doing a great job of bringing the levels down in the UK … we have to be careful and we have to make sure that we are not just importing the virus once we have successfully treated it in Britain. ”
Elsewhere, Professor Stephen Reicher, of the University of St Andrews and a member of the behavioral science subcommittee that advises the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said the public should take the announcement of the Prime minister that social distancing could be removed. in June with “a little pinch of salt”.
He told BBC Breakfast that ‘things can change very quickly’, adding: ‘I think the crucial question for us now is how to reduce infections so that the data looks good and we can relax things in two. months, and the real big problem is this – if we take that as a signal that things are over, if we relax and mix now, the paradox is that we will increase infections and reduce the likelihood that we can. relax in june. 21. ”
Professor Reicher said people will have to be careful in the future, but not in a way that limits everyday life.
“Even after the restrictions disappear, it makes sense to take reasonable and prudent precautions; not in a way that limits our daily life, not in a way that prevents us from seeing people or hugging them, but simply realizing, for example, that overall we are safer outside, don’t sit too close to people, open the windows, ”he says.
“So we have to be sane about it, we have to be careful about it, and that way I think we’re a lot more likely to come into a space where our lives are a lot more normal, a lot more tolerable, where we can meet and hug our loved ones, but don’t just hug anyone.
Asked about the use of face masks in the future, Prof Reicher said that “the bottom line is that we are going to move away from prescriptions” but said people might still be sane, like opening windows and not. not sit too close to others.